If Only

Los Angeles, CA – September 1980

Jack walked into the nightclub on Sunset Strip. He didn’t dread these meetings, he just never knew what to expect.

He spoke with security and told them he was there to see Marty. He gave the password, and they let him come into the private room in the back. Marty was there sitting at the bar sipping a glass of whiskey.

“Jack! Great to see you, buddy. It’s been too long. Have a seat. What are you drinking?”

“Nothing for me, thanks. What’s on your mind?”

“We’ve got a little situation. Everything’s fine right now, but we’ve heard some things from some of our contacts in Hawaii.”

“Tell me what’s going on.”

“One of our people overheard a guy saying some things to his friends at a bar. We’ve had our eye on this guy for a while, and we think you should look into it.”

“Is there a file yet?”

Marty reached into a leather bag on the floor next to him and produced a folder. He handed it to Jack. He took the folder and flipped through it.

“Is this everything?”

“Well… it’s never everything, Jack. That’s why I called you. Read the file and get to know this individual. We’ve gathered as much intel on this guy’s background as possible. We just feel that things could escalate and that can’t happen.”

“What’s the fee?”

“The usual. But if things get sticky you’ll be compensated accordingly for any extra effort.”

“What’s the time frame on this?”

“Well, we know where he is right now and where he may be going, but not much else.”

“So you just want me to follow him?”

“Yea. Keep an eye on him.”

“We’ll give you his location and the details are in the file. If you want to talk with him at some point, that’s your call. But I really think this needs to be addressed sooner than later. There are a few of these types out there but usually, it never comes to anything. But this one’s got me nervous.”

“Do I need to know who the client is?”

“No. That’s why I brought you in, Jack. You’re good at helping people and doing the right thing when necessary.”

Jack looked at the file. “No previous criminal record. Interesting.”

“Yea. Could be nothing but the client doesn’t want to leave anything to chance.”

“How long’s the job?”

“Hard to say. Could be a month, maybe longer. We really don’t know.”

“Alright. Anything else?”

“Uh, yea. I want you to partner with Adhira.

“Come on. You know I only work alone, Marty.”

“Look… for this job I want you to have her with you. This way you won’t stand out too much.”

“Oh, okay… me and some hot Indian chick. Yea, I won’t stand out at all.”

“You two have worked well together in the past and I think while you’re traveling it’ll just look less conspicuous if it looks like you’re a couple. As I said, this all could turn out to be nothing, but it’s for the best if Adhira is with you.”

“Fine. So what’s next?”

“Here are your tickets to Honolulu. Adhira’s already there. She’ll pick you up at the airport.”

“Okay. You got it.”

Honolulu, HI – September 1980

As night fell on the island, Jack and Adhira had dinner at Roy’s Hawaii Kai.

“Food’s great here, Jack. Remember when we worked that surveillance gig back in’78?”

“Yea. That was a crazy time, Adhira. It’s been two years. You still look the same.”

“You look a little tired, Jack. Have you read the file?”

“Probably jet lag that’s all. Yea, I read it on the plane on the way out. The guy seems a bit nuts but I don’t see the urgency here.”

“Well, if Marty hired you it must mean something. Hey…how bad is your life? You’re in Hawaii for goodness’ sake.”

“Yea, but why are you here, Adhira?”

“Oh, thanks a lot, Jack. Way to make a girl feel welcome.”

“You know what I mean. I always work alone. I just like it that way. Free to move around how and when I want.”

“Marty just thought that for this sort of job, you could use a little company on the road. You know my skills. One of them is to keep whoever I’m with calm and centered. And you know how you you can be.”

“How can I be, Adhira?”

“A little intense. You tend to get a little obsessed with the work sometimes. I’m here to provide you with a bit of balance.”

“Did Marty tell you that about me?”

“There are files on all of us, Jack. Now eat your butterfish.”

Jack grinned and took a mouthful. He looked into Adhira’s dark eyes. She smiled and sipped her wine. He always wondered how such a beautiful woman could end up working at the agency. Her lovely face was framed by raven tresses that tumbled about her shoulders like a moonless river.

“So what’s your take on this guy, Jack?”

“Well, as I said, he seems a little nuts. Textbook upbringing. His father was a sergeant in the air force, and his mom was a nurse. Dad was a little abusive to his mom and he never felt like his old man loved him. That sounds like my family. What son hasn’t thought that about their father?”

“Yea, and he wasn’t athletic in school and sort of a poor student. Kind of a loser.” Adhira frowned.

“Yea, kind of like me. But then there’s all the religious stuff he’s gotten into. I think that’s where the real trouble usually starts. People get these righteous ideas, and some can get a little fanatical about that. My ex-wife was religious and she had a lot of good intentions… if you get what I mean.”

“Yea. The road to hell is paved with them. I get it. He did have some early success working at that kid’s camp in Georgia. Maybe he should have just kept doing that.”

“But I think as he’s gotten older he’s started to unravel a bit. I don’t know what happens to some people. Most of us get disillusioned and sad about stuff, but we move on. Then there are other people who just can’t seem to pull themselves out of it. It’s a shame really.”

Did you see in the file how he started to get into these altercations with the camp counselors and can’t seem to fit in anywhere?”

“Right. Which for some odd reason brings him out here. Kinda weird. It’s expensive to live on this island. It’s a resort. Then he attempts suicide by asphyxiation in his car, but screws that up too when the hose he stuck on the exhaust pipe melts, and he survives. Some people move to California thinking they’ll start a new life. But like the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath, it’s just the last exit for the lost. But why Hawaii to kill yourself?”

“Maybe to die in paradise? Didn’t they give him a job at the mental hospital they stuck him in after his attempted suicide?”

“Yea, but then he got into an altercation with the head nurse and quit. I think the last job he held was as a security guard. Funny how he’s good with the kids at the camp, then works at a hospital, and then in security. It’s like he’s always working in jobs that serve and protect human life. But then he starts drinking, and that’s never a good thing if you’re suffering from mental illness.”

“I think it’s only made his obsessions worse.”

“Yea, booze makes you feel better in the beginning… but after a while, it sledgehammers everything else in your life.”

“Speaking from personal experience, Jack?”

“What do you think?”

Manhattan, NY – December 1980

Jack and Adhira sat in their agency-issued vehicle in front of the hotel where their subject was staying.

“We’ve been on this job for a couple of months and although I’ve enjoyed our time together, Jack. I don’t know what to think now.”

“Yea… He goes to New York, and he wanders around the city and not much else. Then he leaves. We follow him to Atlanta, he meets with a friend and then he’s back in Hawaii. Now here we are back in New York again. It’s just weird. But I believe he’s still thinking about doing something.”

December 7, 1980

Jack and Adhira followed their subject as he walked around the city. Keeping a close tail but far enough away to seem inconspicuous. It was pretty easy in a city as populated as Manhattan. They were standing near the 72nd Street subway entrance when they saw their subject speak to someone for the first time since they’d been following him.

“Jack…look. He’s talking to that guy over there. I wonder what that’s all about? Planning something with him?”

“I don’t know, but doesn’t that guy look like the singer, James Taylor? It’s uncanny.”

“Yea, that’s funny. He really does look like him. Let’s just stay close.”

December 8

It was early morning. Jack and Adhira sat in a cafe across the street from the Sheraton Hotel. They watched as their subject walked out of the hotel lobby.

“He’s on the move. Let’s go.”

They followed him to a local bookstore. He was inside for a few minutes and then exited the store. They again followed him to 72nd Street just off Central Park. He just hung out in front of a large apartment building chatting with people and the doorman. Jack watched from across the street and Adhira went to get the car.

They later sat in the car parked nearly in front of the building. Watching their subject just hanging around the entrance.

“This is boring, Jack. He’s just standing around. He’s not doing anything. Maybe his connection is late or something. This doesn’t make sense. All we’ve seen is a guy chatting with people, and that one lady with the little kid he said hello to. But I don’t think he really knows any of these people.”

10:45pm

“Jack, we’ve been here all day watching this guy. What time is it?”

“Nearly 11 pm. Are there any of those fries left?”

“Here.”

“Thanks. You know what? Stay here. I’m gonna get out and stretch my legs. I’m going to go talk to this guy.”

“What are you going to say?”

“I’ll think of something. Move into the driver’s seat, in case we have to leave again, okay?”

“No problem. But after this, you’re buying me some real food and some strong drinks.”

“You got it.”

Jack exited the car and approached the apartment building’s archway entrance. The subject stood off to his left.

A black limousine pulled up in front of the building and caught Jack’s attention. A man and woman exited the limo and walked toward the entrance.

Jack was right behind the subject at this point. Adhira watched from inside their car. The man and woman walked past the subject and Jack thought he heard the subject say the man’s name. The subject then reached into his pocket and pulled out a gun.

From years of training, Jack was ready. He was always ready. This was what he did for a living.

The hunter.

The problem solver.

Jack emptied the clip of his .38 automatic into the subject’s body. Headshot first followed by a hail of bullets into his body. The subject fell to the ground as the woman with the man screamed and ducked behind her husband. They both turned and looked into Jack’s face.

But only for a moment.

Blood began to pool around the subject’s head as he died on the pavement in front of the building. Guards grabbed the couple and pulled them inside the lobby.

Jack was already gone. He leaped into the car, and Adhira hit the gas. Within minutes they were far from the scene.

“Oh my God! How did you know, Jack?”

“It’s what I do. Just keep driving.”

Los Angeles, CA – December 9

Jack sat alone at the bar in the club on Sunset Strip. He was approached by one of the servers.

“Marty will see you now, sir.”

Jack walked into the back room and sat down in front of Marty’s desk.

“You did good, Jack. Real good.” He placed a briefcase on the desk in front of him.

Jack looked at him and took a sip from his drink. “No.”

“No? but, there’s extra in there.”

“You keep it.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yea. This one’s on me.”

I wrote this story back in 2020 in memory of one of my fallen heroes who was taken from us too soon on December 8, 1980.

If only things could have been different…

Rest in peace, John.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. 

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Merry Christmas, everyone.

If Only – Part 3

Manhattan, NY – December 1980

Jack and Adhira sat in their agency-issued vehicle in front of the hotel where their subject was staying.

“We’ve been on this job for a couple of months and although I’ve enjoyed our time together, Jack. I don’t know what to think now.”

“Yea… He goes to New York, and he wanders around the city and not much else. Then he leaves. We follow him to Atlanta, he meets with a friend and then he’s back in Hawaii. Now here we are back in New York again. It’s just weird. But I believe he’s still thinking about doing something.”

December 7

Jack and Adhira followed their subject as he walked around the city. Keeping a close tail but far enough away to seem inconspicuous. It was pretty easy in a city as populated as Manhattan. They were standing near the 72nd Street subway entrance when they saw their subject speak to someone for the first time since they’d been following him.

“Look, Jack. He’s talking to that guy over there. I wonder what that’s all about? Planning something with him?”

“I don’t know, but doesn’t that guy look like the singer, James Taylor? It’s uncanny.”

“Yea, that’s funny. He really does look like him. Let’s just stay close.”

December 8

It was early morning. Jack and Adhira sat in a cafe across the street from the Sheraton Hotel. They watched as their subject walked out of the hotel lobby.

“He’s on the move. Let’s go.”

They followed him to a local bookstore. He was inside for a few minutes and then exited the store. They again followed him to 72nd street just off Central Park. He just hung out in front of a large apartment building chatting with people and the doorman. Jack watched from across the street and Adhira went to get the car.

Later, they sat in the car parked nearly in front of the building. They watched their subject just hanging around the entrance.

“This is boring, Jack. He’s just standing around. He’s not doing anything. Maybe his connection is late or something. This doesn’t make sense. All we’ve seen is a guy chatting with people and that one lady with the little kid he said hello to. But I don’t think he really knows any of these people.

10:45pm

“Jack, we’ve been here all day watching this guy. What time is it?”

“Nearly 11 pm. Are there any of those fries left?”

“Here.”

“Thanks. You know what? Stay here. I’m gonna get out and stretch my legs. I’m going to go talk to this guy.”

“What are you going to say?”

“I’ll think of something. Move into the driver’s seat, in case we have to leave again, okay.”

“No problem. But after this, you’re buying me some real food and some strong drinks.”

“You got it.”

Jack exited the car and approached the apartment building’s archway entrance. The subject stood off to his left.

A black limousine pulled up in front of the building and caught Jack’s attention. Two people exited the limo and walked toward the entrance.

Jack was right behind the subject at this point. Adhira watched from inside their car. The man and woman walked past the subject and Jack thought he heard the subject say the man’s name. The subject then reached into his pocket and pulled out a gun.

From years of training, Jack was ready. He was always ready. This was what he did for a living.

The hunter.

The equalizer. 

The problem solver.

Jack emptied the clip of his .38 automatic into the subject’s body. Headshot first followed by a hail of bullets into his body. The subject fell to the ground as the woman with the man screamed and ducked behind her husband. The man and woman turned and looked into Jack’s face.

But only for a moment.

Blood began to pool around the subject’s head as he died on the pavement in front of the building. Guards grabbed the couple and pulled them inside the lobby.

Jack was already on the move and leaped into the car as Adhira hit the gas. Within minutes they were far from the scene.

“Oh my God! How did you know, Jack?”

“It’s what I do. Just keep driving.”

Los Angeles, CA – December 9

Jack sat alone at the bar in the club on Sunset Strip. He was approached by one of the servers.

“Marty will see you now, sir.”

Jack walked into the back room and sat down in front of Marty’s desk.

“You did good, Jack. Real good.” He placed a briefcase on the desk in front of him.

Jack looked at him and took a sip from his drink. “No.”

“No? but, there’s extra in there.”

“You keep it.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yea. This one’s on me.”

 

 

I wrote this story back in 2020 in memory of one of my fallen heroes who was taken from us too soon on December 8, 1980. 

If only things could have been different…

Rest in peace, John.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

 

Merry Christmas, everyone. 

 

If Only – Part 2

Honolulu, HI – September, 1980

As night fell on the island, Jack and Adhira had dinner at Roy’s Hawaii Kai.

“Food’s great here. Remember when we worked that surveillance gig back in’78?”

“Yea. That was a crazy time, Adhira. It’s been two years. You still look the same.”

“You look a little tired, Jack. Have you read the file?”

“Probably jet lag, that’s all. Yea, I read it on the plane out here. The guy seems a bit nuts but I don’t see the urgency here.”

“Well, if Marty hired you it must mean something. How bad is your life? You’re in Hawaii for goodness’ sake.”

“Yea, but why are you here, Adhira?”

“Oh, thanks a lot, Jack. Way to make a girl feel welcome.”

“You know what I mean. I always work alone. I just like it that way. Free to move around how and when I want.”

“Marty just thought that you could use a little company on the road for this sort of job. You know my skills. One of them is to keep whoever I’m with calm and centered. And you know how you can sometimes be.”

“How can I be, Adhira?”

“A little intense. You tend to get a little obsessed with the work. I’m here to provide you with a bit of balance.”

“Did Marty tell you that about me?”

“There are files on all of us, Jack. Now eat your butterfish.”

Jack grinned and took a mouthful. He looked into Adhira’s dark eyes. She smiled and sipped her wine. He always wondered how such a beautiful woman could end up working at the agency. That lovely face framed with raven tresses that tumbled about her shoulders like a moonless river.

“So what’s your take on this guy, Jack?”

“Well, as I said, he seems a little nuts. Textbook upbringing. His father was a sergeant in the air force, and his mom was a nurse. Dad was a little abusive to his mom and he never felt like his old man loved him. That sounds like my family. What son hasn’t thought that about their father?”

“Yea, and he wasn’t athletic in school and sort of a poor student. Kind of a loser.”

“Yea, kind of like me. But then there’s all the religious stuff he’s gotten into. I think that’s where the real trouble normally begins. People get these righteous ideas, and some can get a little fanatical about that. My ex-wife was religious and she had a lot of good intentions if you get what I mean.”

“Yea. The road to hell is paved with them. I get you. This guy did have some early success working at that kid’s camp in Georgia. Maybe he should have just kept doing that.”

“But I think as he’s gotten older he’s started to unravel a bit. I don’t know what happens to some people. Most of us get disillusioned and sad about stuff, but we move on. Then other people just can’t seem to pull themselves out of it. It’s a real shame.”

Did you see in the file how he starts to get into these altercations with the camp counselors and can’t seem to fit in anywhere?”

“Right. Which for some odd reason brings him out here. It’s odd. It’s expensive to live on this island. It’s a resort. Then he attempts suicide by asphyxiation in his car but screws that up too when the hose he stuck on the exhaust pipe melts, and he survives. Some people move to California thinking they’ll start a new life. But like the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath, it’s just the last exit for the lost. But why Hawaii to kill yourself?”

“Maybe to die in paradise? Didn’t they give him a job at the mental hospital they stuck him after his attempted suicide?”

“Yea, but then he got into an altercation with the head nurse and quit. I think the last job he held was as a security guard. Funny how he’s good with the kids at the camp, then works at a hospital, and then in security. It’s like he’s always working in jobs that serve and protect human life. But then he starts drinking and that’s never a good thing if you’re suffering from mental illness.”

“I think it’s only made his obsessions worse.”

“Yea, booze makes you feel better in the beginning but after a while, it sledgehammers everything else in your life.”

“Speaking from personal experience, Jack?”

“What do you think?”

Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. 

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

If Only – Part 1

Los Angeles, CA – October 1980

Jack walked into the nightclub on the sunset strip. He didn’t dread these meetings, he just never knew what to expect.

He spoke with security and told them he was there to see Marty. He gave the password, and they let him come into the private room in the back. Marty was there sitting at the bar sipping a glass of whiskey.

“Jack! Great to see you, buddy. It’s been too long. Have a seat. What are you drinking?”

“Nothing for me, thanks. What’s on your mind?”

“We’ve got a little situation. Everything’s fine right now, but we’ve heard some things from some of our contacts in Hawaii.”

“Tell me what’s going on.”

“One of our people overheard a guy saying some things to his friends at a bar. We’ve had our eye on this guy for a while, and we think you should look into it.”

“Is there a file yet?”

Marty reached into a leather bag on the floor next to him and produced a folder. He handed it to him. Jack took the folder and flipped through it.

“Is this everything?”

“Well, it’s never everything, Jack. That’s why I called you. Read the file and get to know this individual. We’ve gathered as much intel on this guy’s background as possible. We just feel that things could escalate, and that can’t happen.”

“What’s the fee?”

“The usual. But if things get sticky you’ll be compensated accordingly for any extra effort.”

“What’s the time frame on this?”

“Well, we know where he is right now and where he may be going, but not much else.”

“So you just want me to follow him?”

“Yea. Keep an eye on him. We’ll give you his location and the details are in the file. If you want to talk with him at some point, that’s your call. But I really think this needs to be addressed sooner than later. There are a few of these types out there but usually, it never comes to anything. But this one’s got me nervous.”

“Do I need to know who the client is?”

“No. That’s why I brought you in, Jack. You’re good at helping people and doing the right thing when necessary.”

Jack looked at the file. “No previous criminal record. Interesting.”

“Yea. Could be nothing, but the client doesn’t want to leave anything to chance.”

“How long’s the job?”

“Hard to say. Could be a month, maybe longer. We just don’t really know.”

“Alright. Anything else?”

“Uh, yea. I want you to partner with Adhira.

“Come on. You know I only work alone, Marty.”

“Look… for this job I want you to have her with you. This way you won’t stand out too much.”

“Oh, okay… me and some hot Indian chick. Yea, I won’t stand out at all.”

“You two have worked well together in the past and I think while you’re traveling it’ll just look less conspicuous if it looks like you’re a couple. As I said, this all could turn out to be nothing, but it’s for the best if Adhira’s with you.”

“Fine. So what’s next?”

“Here are your tickets to Honolulu. Adhira’s already there. She’ll pick you up at the airport.”

“Okay. You got it.”

To be continued tomorrow…

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. 

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Shipwrecked with Alessandra – 5 Minutes

Here’s an unfinished fiction series I once started to write. I wanted a series that was 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, 5 months, and 5 years. But I never made it past 5 minutes. It sat in my drafts for years, so here it is.

The name’s Erik. I’m a photographer. I shoot mostly fashion stuff for magazines and shows. I’m out on assignment today. We’re on a boat somewhere west of Australia. It’s a beautiful day. I’m doing a shoot for a new swimsuit line worn by model Alessandra Ambrosio.

I work with models all of the time. After a while, it’s like working in a bank. You’re surrounded by millions of dollars in cash, but after a while, it’s just the thing you work with every day. It’s not yours, and it’s just business. All of the women are beautiful. Probably some of the most beautiful women in the world. But it’s just a job like any other. You work, you hope you get the right shots, and you get paid. Sometimes you put in long hours. The travel wears you out, and life on the road gets lonely.

What concerns me today is the skipper was complaining that the port engine on this 1996, 37-foot flybridge motor yacht just wasn’t right; the gas engine was running rough and losing power. Something about loose valves or pistons. He’s below now taking a look at it.

It’s just the four of us out here. Me, the captain, Alessandra, and her makeup artist, Sidney.

Out of all of the models I’ve ever worked with, Ale’ has always been my favorite. She’s a sweet woman with a great sense of humor. Always on point and ready to work despite her fame.

Right now I’m out on the bow with her. She’s wearing a lovely multi-colored bikini. My Nikon D3X Digital SLR camera is clicking away. These shots are going to be great. They better be. This baby cost me seven grand.

“Sidney! Can you help me out a sec?” The captain shouts from below. Sidney rolls his eyes and heads to the back of the boat. “Coming!”

I turn my attention back to Alessandra. “Ok, dear. Give me a little smile. Turn. Little more to the left. Okay, look up just slightly. Perfect.”

Out of nowhere, there’s an explosion. Ale’s eyes were wide as she clutches the grab rail on the bow. I fall backward onto the deck. “What the hell?” she exclaims.

That’s when the screaming began. Screaming from below deck. Screaming I’ll never forget. It was the captain.

“Fire! The boat’s on fire!” Alessandra cried.

I looked backward, still reeling from the shock. Flames burst forth from the hold in the back of the boat. I scrambled to my feet. I glanced back at Alessandra. “Stay here.”

This was a fuel fire. I could smell it. Large billows of black smoke poured skyward from the flames. I could hear them screaming, but I couldn’t get to them. The heat was so intense. I clambered to the bridge looking for a fire extinguisher. I got inside and looked wildly about. Then I saw it. The metal hook on the wall to where the fire extinguisher was supposed to be but wasn’t.

I went towards the helm. I located the distress button and lifted the cover. I pressed and held the button until it beeped. Hopefully, the DSC signal will tell the Coast Guard the ship’s information. I grabbed the radio. “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! This is the Lady Louise! We’re on fire!”

I could feel the panic clutching me like a giant claw. I couldn’t give a location. I didn’t even know where the hell we were!

God, it’s getting hot in here. The heat is taking me and I can’t stop coughing. Smoke is filling the cabin. I looked out the windshield at Ale’. She had a terrified grimace of mute protest on her beautiful visage. A look I had never seen before. Then she said something I wished I’d never heard.

“We’re sinking!”

I grabbed what I could and threw it in my bag. Then reached for the only two things that could keep us from dying here in the next few minutes. I scrambled out the side door of the cabin. The flames licked my left arm. Searing it instantly. I screamed in pain and made my way toward Ale’.

The boat was going down, and the screaming from below had stopped. The thought turned my stomach. Hopefully, they didn’t burn to death and the smoke took them instead.

“Put this on.” I could see the tears streaming down her cheeks and her lower lip quiver as she put on the bright orange life jacket. She snapped it in place. She was hyperventilating. I grabbed her by the shoulders to steady her. “We’re going to be okay, honey. We’re going to get out of this.”

“Are we going to die?” She squeaked.

“No!”

“What about Sidney and Captain Pike?”

“They’re dead. We have to go.”

She started crying more, but then suddenly stopped. “Wait. Look!” She pointed behind me. I wheeled around. Strapped in a rack at the foot of the bridge was what appeared to be an inflatable raft and two oars.  I yanked it out. “How are we going to get it inflated in time?” she said.

“With this.” I affixed the CO2 cartridge into the nozzle. Thankfully it began to inflate. The ship was now tilting to the side. Lady Louise was going down for the last time. But we were going to get out of this if we could just get off her and into the raft.

“Alessandra. I need you to listen to me. I’m going to lash this raft to the side of the boat here. Then I’m going to throw it overboard. I’m going to drop this bag here into the raft. Then I’m going to go in. I’m going to ask you to then untie the raft and jump. I’ll catch you. I promise.”

“What about women and children first?”

“Just do it, Ale’!”

The raft went into the water. Followed by my bag containing my camera and what supplies and tools I grabbed from the cabin. I then climbed down and dropped into the raft. I looked up at her crouching on the deck. “Okay, Ale’. Come on!”

She was about to climb over when she suddenly hesitated, glancing backward. “What are you waiting for? Come on!”

“One sec.” She said, holding up her perfectly manicured index finger.

Then she was gone. Just the sun glinting in my eyes as I looked upward. “Ale’! Come back! What are you doing? They’re dead! You can’t do anything. We have to go! Please!

Suddenly she reappeared, coughing and gasping. “Here. Catch.” A huge duffel bag landed on me, knocking me to the floor of the raft.” I pushed it to the side, as it was followed by the slender 5’9″ 119 lb frame of a global supermodel. She fell into my arms as I broke her fall. Her face was inches from mine for a moment. She didn’t move. Her breath came in short gasps of fear.

“Jesus, You scared the hell out of me, Ale’. You could have been killed running back for that!” She could sense the anger mixed with terror in my voice as I gazed into her lovely feline eyes.

“What? If you’re entitled to one carry-on bag, then so am I,” she said, rolling off me.

I just shook my head but was somewhat relieved. The raft drifted away from the sinking Lady Louise. She was engulfed in flames now. Maybe someone will see the column of black smoke that poured from her, I thought.  We both watched as she disappeared beneath the waves. The ocean hissed, mocking us. Extinguishing the flames in a final puff of smoke.

“Grab an oar. I’ll try to get our bearings as to where we are.” I said, looking around. I squinted in the hot sun.

Ale’ scanned the horizon. “Look!”She turned toward me. “Land! See it?” She pointed to what appeared to be a small island in the distance to our west. She grabbed an oar and locked it in place. I did the same. “Well, let’s hope there are people there that can help us.”

So here I am. Out in the middle of the ocean. Miles from the mainland of Australia with a gorgeous, international supermodel. Possibly one of the most beautiful women in the world. Here we are. Shoulder to shoulder, paddling an inflatable orange raft to who knows where.

Should I finish this? Let me know in the comments if you think it’s worth pursuing!

(If you click on the link of her name in the story above you can read the blog post from a few years ago when I met her in New York!)

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Angel with a Broken Wing – Chapter 2

My new book, Below the Wheel, drops on June 22. Here’s a little taste from last year’s novel, Angel with a Broken Wing.

 

TWO

The next evening, Christian relaxed on the couch watching the news on television. He glanced at his watch.

“Six-thirty? Whoa! I got class tonight.”

He leaped off the sofa, grabbed his textbook off the kitchen table, and headed out the door. He had some difficulty getting the Pinto started, but after several tries, the engine of the old ‘Gas Crisis Classic’ finally turned over.

“Going to work all day and then school at night is brutal. I should have done this right out of high school when I had the time. “I’ll be thirty-five this summer. It’ll take me forever to get my degree.”

The Pinto hesitated and bucked as he pulled into the parking lot of Gloucester County Community College. 

“This car’s a piece of junk! Didn’t they used to say that if you got hit from behind in a Pinto, the thing blew up?”

“The Flinto!”

He parked the car and began the long walk to the main building. He shivered as the frigid February wind whipped across the parking lot. It seemed to go right through his jacket and rattle his bones. 

He got to the door and a blast of warm air poured forth as he opened it, and dashed inside.

The hallway was filled with the sound of students chattering and running to class. It felt like high school to Christian. High school without the lockers.

He suddenly felt old as he trudged past the groups of twenty-year-olds that congregated outside the classrooms. He couldn’t help but notice the abundance of baggy pants, bad haircuts, tattoos, and body piercings.

“What the hell has happened to our culture?”

Christian finally arrived at his classroom and tried the door. 

Locked. He then noticed a note taped to the inside of the window on the door.

PSYCH CLASS CANCELLED DUE TO DEATH IN THE FAMILY

“Yea… Join the club, man. This sucks.”

He turned and headed back down the brightly lit corridor. The walls were lined with bulletin boards displaying upcoming student activities. Activities Christian would never attend. He was nearly to the door when a particular sign caught his eye. It was covered with brightly colored advertisements regarding travel. He stopped for a moment to read the board.

GO ON YOUR DREAM ADVENTURE! TRAVEL TO BEAUTIFUL COLORADO WITH US THIS SUMMER!

“Is it really that good? It can’t be as nice as the pictures. I suppose it’s good for the kids to get involved in something positive.”

“I wish I could go away…”

He continued to read the notes and signs on the board.

DIG UP DINOSAUR BONES!

HELP FEED THE CHILDREN!

BE A BIG BROTHER!

ROOMMATE WANTED!

NEED A RIDE!

“Need a ride?”

It was a small 3×5 card tacked to the corner of the board. Christian pulled it free from the thumbtacks that held it to the corkboard and read it carefully.

I NEED A RIDE!!! GOING WEST, POSSIBLY CALIFORNIA. WILL SHARE EXPENSES. IF INTERESTED, PLEASE CALL (609)555-2602) ASK FOR T.R. JEROP. 

SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY!!!

He read the card again, turning it over in his hand. He glanced up and down the hallway, and not seeing anyone, stuffed the card in his pocket. He walked towards the nearest exit. He stood in the warm vestibule and lit a cigarette before stepping back out into the bitter cold.

“What am I doing?” He made his way along the tree-lined promenade that led to the parking lot. “I should just put the damn thing back. I’m not going anywhere. Maybe I’m just jealous that this free spirit is going somewhere and I’m not. I don’t have the time, or the money to go anywhere. I’ve met so many people that would love to win the lottery and just fly away. This Jerop guy… he’s probably twenty years old, not a care in the world, nothing to tie him down. He just wants to see the country and cruise to the golden coast this summer. Must be nice. I gotta find some way to change my life. Jeezus it’s friggin’ cold out!”

Light snow began to fall as Christian got into the Pinto and drove home.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Angel with a Broken Wing – Chapter 1

My new book, Below the Wheel, drops on June 22. Here’s a little taste over the next 3 days from last year’s novel, Angel with a Broken Wing.

 

ONE

Christian Blackmore sat quietly in the law office of Timmons and Weiss in Miami, Florida. He looked around the room at his mother and three sisters as the executor read the Will for his uncle’s estate.

He ran his fingers through his blonde hair and rubbed his eyes. He still felt hungover from last night after the funeral, but the dark cloud of alcohol was beginning to lift from his head.

“And to my dear nephew, Christian, I leave the following possessions… my entire record collection, because I know how much he loves music. My 1974 Ford Pinto, because I want him to have quality transportation. All of my custom luggage, because I know how much he loves to travel. Finally, my favorite briefcase, so that when he goes off to work, he’ll always think of me! HA, HA.”

“Excuse me, sir… But what’s so funny?”

“I’m not laughing, Christian.”

Mrs. Blackmore interjected. “Mrs. Weiss, I just buried my favorite brother. I think it’s nice that he thought enough of my son to leave him some of his personal belongings. I don’t think your attempt at levity is appropriate.”

“But I didn’t laugh, Ma’am.”

“We all heard you, Weiss. It’s the part about the Pinto, isn’t it?”

“Christian, Please. You don’t understand. It says here: ‘and my favorite briefcase so that he can always think of me when he goes off to work. HA, HA.’ That’s what’s written in the will, the words ‘HA, HA.’ See for yourself.”

Christian snatched the document from the old lawyer’s hand and read it closely.

“It does say that, Mom.”

“I told you…”

Mom… is this some kind of joke?”

Her eyes narrowed. “I don’t know, Christian. I just don’t know.”

The next morning, Christian loaded the Pinto and headed back to his home in Woodbury, New Jersey.  The old ‘gas crisis classic’ held up rather well over the two days it took him to get home. As he drove he had some time to reflect on his life.

“Five years.”

For five years he had worked for Midland Bank. It was a pretty good gig working down at the seashore. Though it was very busy during the summer season, it was dead during the winter months. He had had enough of the resort/retirement community and needed something more. Something that was at least consistent twelve months a year. He had tried to get a transfer within the company to the Philadelphia area. He figured at least there’d be more opportunity and exposure in a more populated area. After months of trying he finally resigned from his position with the bank.

He took a job with a finance company in Turnersville, New Jersey. It was in Gloucester County, a few miles outside Philly on the Jersey side of the Delaware River.

He found that the differences between banks and finance companies were radical. He was asked by management to refer to the firm as financial services, not a finance company.

One day he asked his boss why, and he told Christian that the phrase finance company held a certain negative image.

Christian figured that the job wouldn’t be much different from the one he held at the bank. But he couldn’t have been more wrong. It was like comparing apples to oranges.

When he managed a branch for the bank his duties were, do your audit and compliance books, open checking and savings accounts, develop new business, oversee branch operations, and most of all, keep your tellers happy.

If you get the occasional customer who wants to borrow money, it’s a no-brainer. If he or she had even one delinquent account on their credit report, you simply denied the request. It was that easy. The bank has the lowest rates, so they only lend money to the best customers.

But what if you had a good reason for your late payments? What if you lost your job, or your child was sick in the hospital and medical bills were piling up?

The bank doesn’t care that bad things happen to good people. Sorry.

So what does this customer do to get a loan? Where can he go to get a loan to help meet the needs of his family?

He goes to a finance company. The customer needs money to buy Christmas presents for his kids, or his daughter needs braces, or maybe she needs tuition for school. Whatever the client needs…Christian is there.

As he navigated the old Pinto North on Interstate 95, He thought of the hundreds of customers he had served over the years at Midland Bank. He visualized the typical customer walking out of his chosen branch where he kept his money after being declined for a loan. The bank where he deposited his paycheck every week. The bank where he had his savings account. The place his wife made her weekly payments into their Christmas Club. The bank where his grandfather renewed his certificates of deposit every six months. This man walks out of his bank and comes across the street to see Christian. Christian Blackmore. Finance Company Man!

He thought about how the meeting would go. Turning it over in his mind. They were all just different players in the same game.

His game.

“Hey Joe, how’s it going?”

“Not good, Chris. My bank just turned me down for a loan. I’ve been banking there since the joint opened!”

“Well Joe, maybe we can help you here.”

“Really? That’d be great!”

“Why were you declined?”

“I got hurt on the job a year ago, and I got behind on some of my payments because I was out of work for a couple of months.”

“Are you current with everybody now?

“You mean up to date on all my bills?”

“Yes.”

“Absolutely.”

“How much do you need to borrow?”

“About $1,500 would do it I guess.”

“Okay, that’s going to be $63 a month for say…18 months?”

“Yea sounds good. Hey, what’s the payment on $2,000?”

“Well Joe… let me get some more info and we’ll see if we can get this done today.”

“Thanks, man!”

Christian took a sip from the paper cup filled with bitter black coffee. He turned up the radio to drown out the hammering of the old engine as it pushed the tiny old Ford through the night.

He continued to relive his daily life as he drove on. His loathing for his job helped keep him alert as he entered his sixteenth hour on the road. He thought about how that very same customer would enter his office the same afternoon to sign papers and receive his check for $2,000.

Pretty amazing, Christian thought as he lit a cigarette. Quick and easy. The client’s happy. He can send his little girl to summer camp or get his leaky roof fixed, or pay off his gambling debt to his bookie in Atlantic City.

Who cares. He’s only got to come up with $100 a month. What a super job. What a great guy Christian Blackmore is. What a satisfying vocation he has chosen. Guy had a need, and he satisfied it. The client had some delinquent payments in the past but he’s current now. Handed him a check the same day. The bank would have taken a week and charged him about 12% had they approved him.

But they didn’t.

But Christian did. He charged Joe what his boss told him to charge on every unsecured loan he made, no matter what the credit score looked like. He charges them all the State Maximum for the state of New Jersey.

That rate is 30%!

30%! That’s only 20% less than the loan sharks in South Philly charge.

Christian thought about his boss. That pig Andy. He could almost hear his voice now… “Don’t lose any business boys. If they balk at the rate, cut it back to 28%. Show ’em we’re flexible.”

“Oh yea, thanks, Andy. They’ll love that rate. Don’t people usually like to have their clothes off when they’re getting screwed?”

Christian knew he needed to get out of this job. He could feel the rage rising in him. He took a deep breath and exhaled so as to not drive faster due to his anger. He spoke out loud to himself in the car.

“They love that low payment I quote them. Yessiree! That low payment is packed with Life, Disability, and even Unemployment insurance. It’s sick! People pay so much in interest and insurance we pack into these loans. We make a fortune from their misfortune. ‘At least we get ’em the cash when they need it.’ Andy says.”

“Yea… but what a price they pay. Jeezus, what I do to these hard-working people every day is criminal. I should just go put on a mini skirt and a pair of fishnets and heels, and just grab a handful of credit applications, and go stand on the corner of Mickle Street and the Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Camden, and peddle my wares with the rest of the hookers!”

Christian maneuvered through the traffic around the beltway in Washington, DC. The little Pinto would sputter and buck whenever he would gun the accelerator. He thought about how a huge part of his job was collecting payments from slow-paying customers. That was the worst part of the job.

“I gotta find another job. As soon as I get back, I’m going to do it. I don’t know what I’m waiting for. Damn slow accounts. Calling those people every Tuesday and Thursday night to see if they’ll make a payment on the overpriced loan I made them.”

Christian pushed on for another three hours until he arrived home. He pulled into his driveway. He began unloading his ‘inheritance.’ He was too tired to carry all the junk into the house so he locked it all in the garage, went inside his house, and fell onto his bed to disappear into blissful sleep.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

New Book Coming Soon: BELOW THE WHEEL

After publishing Angel with a Broken Wing last Summer, my next thought was… what do I do now? Go to the beach?

After much rumination, I decided to write another book. I wanted to create a thriller/detective novel that took place near Philly. Should I try to make the story inspired by real events?

Maybe.

I also wanted to make it about a couple of guys that were friends and decided to go into business together.

Alex Hunter and Scott Appel are two ex-investment brokers turned private investigators. Burned out from the competitive sales environment of buying and selling stock, they open the Watchman Detective Agency in Camden, New Jersey.

During an unbearable heatwave, the guys are caught up in a bizarre case. The Camden Strangler, as the media call him, has been murdering prostitutes in the area.

It’s a hard-boiled police procedural, using the classic Hitchcockian premise of the common man getting caught up in extraordinary circumstances. I wanted to explore some of the darker elements of life but seen through the eyes of lighthearted unique characters. I also wanted something with a shorter, timeframe than my previous book.

Below the Wheel takes place over two weeks in the lives of the characters.

I hope to finish it in the next few months.

Planned Release Date: June 22, 2021

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

ANGEL WITH A BROKEN WING is Now For Sale on Amazon! (kindle and paperback)

PUBLISHED!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss

 

The day is finally here, and I couldn’t be happier! This has been a long time coming and a labor of love. I’ve been working day and night to get this baby written, and I think it’s my finest work yet! I hope you enjoy it!

 

I wanted to create something new. Not a non-fiction, compilation of stories from my blog. Something new. A story. A fable. A love story that included all of the elements of all the films I liked. A thriller, road movie, romance, mystery, an action yarn, that would be full of twists and turns.

The world had gone a bit mad, and I wanted to create a world I could control. I wanted it to take place in a time before there were smart phones or social media. A story about a boy and a girl trying to fall in love, during extraordinary circumstances. Let’s put a fancy car in there. Have them drive across the country on a road trip. Let’s throw a bad guy in there. That’ll keep them on edge. Let’s make it a mystery too. Let’s ‘David Lynch’ it up a bit with some interesting, unique characters. Let’s make them all flawed in some way. They all have the potential to be good, but they’re all struggling with themselves. They all want something, but they don’t know the right way to get it. A collection of misfits all trying to find themselves. All broken in some way. They want to fly, but their wings are broken, so they choose to run.

What if you could just run away from your current life?

Christian Blackmore works as a manager at a local finance company in New Jersey. He’s burned out from all the bad loans, and making collection calls every night. He spends his days laboring at a job he hates, and his evenings drinking at a local bar with his best friend. 

When his favorite uncle dies, and leaves him a unique inheritance, he begins to question the path he’s taken in life.

He decides to take a road trip across the country with a woman he just met. She’s a mysterious beauty, who may hold a dark secret. 

What begins as a romantic journey, becomes a nightmare, when he realizes he’s being followed by an elusive stranger. What does he want? Is it Christian, the girl, or something far more sinister?

Angel with a Broken Wing, takes you on a terrifying, coast to coast thrill ride across America. Can one man fall in love, and stay one step ahead in a cat and mouse game with a killer?

You can check it out here:

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss

 

I want to first thank my daughter. Thank you for coming into my life. You are my inspiration. I love you! I can always come to you with an idea and you make it perfect.

Scott Macintosh. You’re my best friend. You’ve been with me since the beginning. Thank you for staying on the ship, even when it was sinking. 

Will Ball. Thank you for your friendship, the films, the laughs, and of course, the cocktails. I’m honored to have you in my life as a friend. 

A.M. Homes. Thank you for answering my letter with a personal note so many years ago. I was so inspired by your words, it gave me the courage to write my story the way I wanted to tell it, without fear.

Thanks to the amazing team at Amazon Kindle. Without you, I’d be lost in a sea of technology. I can write the words, but you guys help me turn them into books.

Thanks to everyone at Amazon. I became a member over 20 years ago when you were just a giant bookstore. After crawling on my hands and knees to agents and publishing houses for years, Amazon finally gave me the biggest platform on Earth to bring my literary work to the world!

A special thanks to everyone at WordPress. Without you, I couldn’t publish Phicklephilly every day for the last four years! Now we’re a dot com and I’ve monetized the site with ads! You gave me a home to bring my work to everyone! Thank you!

Thanks to all the folks over at GoDaddy. You made the transition from just another blogger to a dotcom look easy. Thanks for always being there when I needed you. You’re the best!

Thank you, dear readers, and subscribers for all of your support over the years I’ve been writing this little blog. I appreciate you all, and try to respond to all of your comments. I love your comments!

Please buy my new book. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed. It’s quite a ride!

This is a great book to read at the beach this summer!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss

 

 

The people have spoken!

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy my new book, Angel with a Broken Wing on Amazon!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

 

 

HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SUMMER, EVERYONE…EVERYWHERE!!!

 

Zoolon Forever!

Another Life – Chapter 32

https://lapetitemort17.wordpress.com/?p=445

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Facebook: phicklephilly          Instagram@phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

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